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# Factorization using Difference of Squares

## Factor binomials that are composed of subtracted perfect square terms

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Factorization using Difference of Squares

### Factorization Using Difference of Squares

When you learned how to multiply binomials we talked about two special products.

The sum and difference formula:(a+b)(ab)The square of a binomial formulas:  (a+b)2(ab)2=a2b2=a2+2ab+b2=a22ab+b2\begin{align*} \text{The sum and difference formula:} \quad (a + b)(a - b) & = a^2 - b^2\\ \text{The square of a binomial formulas:} \qquad \quad \ \ (a + b)^2 & = a^2 + 2ab + b^2\\ (a - b)^2 & = a^2 - 2ab + b^2\end{align*}

In this section we’ll learn how to recognize and factor these special products.

#### Factor the Difference of Two Squares

We use the sum and difference formula to factor a difference of two squares. A difference of two squares is any quadratic polynomial in the form a2b2\begin{align*}a^2 - b^2\end{align*}, where a\begin{align*}a\end{align*} and b\begin{align*}b\end{align*} can be variables, constants, or just about anything else. The factors of a2b2\begin{align*}a^2 - b^2\end{align*} are always (a+b)(ab)\begin{align*}(a + b)(a - b)\end{align*}; the key is figuring out what the a\begin{align*}a\end{align*} and b\begin{align*}b\end{align*} terms are.

#### Factoring the Difference of Squares

1. Factor the difference of squares:

a) x29\begin{align*}x^2 - 9\end{align*}

Rewrite x29\begin{align*}x^2 - 9\end{align*} as x232\begin{align*}x^2 - 3^2\end{align*}. Now it is obvious that it is a difference of squares.

The difference of squares formula is:

a2b2=(a+b)(ab)\begin{align*} a^2 - b^2 = (a + b)(a - b)\end{align*}

Let’s see how our problem matches with the formula:

x232=(x+3)(x3)\begin{align*}x^2 - 3^2 = (x + 3)(x - 3)\end{align*}

x29=(x+3)(x3)\begin{align*}x^2 - 9 = (x + 3)(x - 3)\end{align*}

We can check to see if this is correct by multiplying (x+3)(x3)\begin{align*}(x + 3)(x - 3)\end{align*}:

x+3x33x9x2+3xx2+0x9\begin{align*}& \quad \quad \ \ x + 3\\ & \underline{\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\;x - 3}\\ & \quad -3x - 9\\ & \underline{x^2 + 3x\;\;\;\;\;\;}\\ & x^2 + 0x - 9\end{align*}

Note: We could factor this polynomial without recognizing it as a difference of squares. With the methods we learned in the last section we know that a quadratic polynomial factors into the product of two binomials:

(x)(x)\begin{align*}(x\;\;\;\;)(x\;\;\;\;)\end{align*}

We need to find two numbers that multiply to -9 and add to 0 (since there is no x\begin{align*}x-\end{align*}term, that’s the same as if the x\begin{align*}x-\end{align*}term had a coefficient of 0). We can write -9 as the following products:

9=199=1(9)9=3(3)andandand1+9=81+(9)=83+(3)=0These are the correct numbers.\begin{align*}& -9 = -1 \cdot 9 && \text{and} && -1 + 9 = 8\\ & -9 = 1 \cdot (-9) && \text{and} && 1 + (-9) = -8\\ & -9 = 3 \cdot (-3) && \text{and} && 3 + (-3) = 0 \qquad These \ are \ the \ correct \ numbers.\end{align*}

We can factor x29\begin{align*}x^2 - 9\end{align*} as (x+3)(x3)\begin{align*}(x + 3)(x - 3)\end{align*}, which is the same answer as before. You can always factor using the methods you learned in the previous section, but recognizing special products helps you factor them faster.

b) x2100\begin{align*}x^2 - 100\end{align*}

Rewrite x2100\begin{align*}x^2 - 100\end{align*} as x2102\begin{align*}x^2 - 10^2\end{align*}. This factors as (x+10)(x10)\begin{align*}(x + 10)(x - 10)\end{align*}.

c) x21\begin{align*}x^2 - 1\end{align*}

Rewrite x21\begin{align*}x^2 - 1\end{align*} as x212\begin{align*}x^2 - 1^2\end{align*}. This factors as (x+1)(x1)\begin{align*}(x + 1)(x - 1)\end{align*}.

2. Factor the difference of squares:

a) 16x225\begin{align*}16x^2 - 25\end{align*}

Rewrite 16x225\begin{align*}16x^2 - 25\end{align*} as (4x)252\begin{align*}(4x)^2 - 5^2\end{align*}. This factors as (4x+5)(4x5)\begin{align*}(4x + 5)(4x - 5)\end{align*}.

b) 4x281\begin{align*}4x^2 - 81\end{align*}

Rewrite 4x281\begin{align*}4x^2 - 81\end{align*} as (2x)292\begin{align*}(2x)^2 - 9^2\end{align*}. This factors as (2x+9)(2x9)\begin{align*}(2x + 9)(2x - 9)\end{align*}.

c) 49x264\begin{align*}49x^2 - 64\end{align*}

Rewrite 49x264\begin{align*}49x^2 - 64\end{align*} as (7x)282\begin{align*}(7x)^2 - 8^2\end{align*}. This factors as (7x+8)(7x8)\begin{align*}(7x + 8)(7x - 8)\end{align*}.

3. Factor the difference of squares:

a) x2y2\begin{align*}x^2 - y^2\end{align*}

x2y2\begin{align*}x^2 - y^2\end{align*} factors as (x+y)(xy)\begin{align*}(x + y)(x - y)\end{align*}.

b) 9x24y2\begin{align*}9x^2 - 4y^2\end{align*}

Rewrite 9x24y2\begin{align*}9x^2 - 4y^2\end{align*} as (3x)2(2y)2\begin{align*}(3x)^2 - (2y)^2\end{align*}. This factors as (3x+2y)(3x2y)\begin{align*}(3x + 2y)(3x - 2y)\end{align*}.

c) x2y21\begin{align*} x^2 y^2 - 1\end{align*}

Rewrite \begin{align*} x^2 y^2 - 1\end{align*} as \begin{align*}(xy)^2 - 1^2\end{align*}. This factors as \begin{align*}(xy + 1)(xy - 1)\end{align*}.

### Examples

Factor the difference of squares:

#### Example 1

\begin{align*}x^4 - 25\end{align*}

Rewrite \begin{align*}x^4 - 25\end{align*} as \begin{align*}(x^2)^2 - 5^2\end{align*}. This factors as \begin{align*}(x^2 + 5)(x^2 - 5)\end{align*}.

#### Example 2

\begin{align*}16x^4 - y^2\end{align*}

Rewrite \begin{align*}16x^4 - y^2\end{align*} as \begin{align*}(4x^2)^2 - y^2\end{align*}. This factors as \begin{align*}(4x^2 + y)(4x^2 - y)\end{align*}.

#### Example 3

\begin{align*}x^2 y^8 - 64z^2\end{align*}

Rewrite \begin{align*}x^2 y^4 - 64z^2\end{align*} as \begin{align*}(xy^2)^2 - (8z)^2\end{align*}. This factors as \begin{align*}(xy^2 + 8z)(xy^2 - 8z)\end{align*}.

### Review

Factor the following differences of squares.

1. \begin{align*}x^2 - 4\end{align*}
2. \begin{align*}x^2 - 36\end{align*}
3. \begin{align*}-x^2 + 100\end{align*}
4. \begin{align*}x^2 -400\end{align*}
5. \begin{align*}9x^2 - 4\end{align*}
6. \begin{align*}25x^2 - 49\end{align*}
7. \begin{align*}9a^2 - 25b^2\end{align*}
8. \begin{align*}-36x^2 + 25\end{align*}
9. \begin{align*}4x^2 - y^2\end{align*}
10. \begin{align*}16x^2 - 81y^2\end{align*}

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